By Jerry Long, July 4, 2011 

A tale of the sun and my first outfitted hunt in pursuit of the feral hog. 

My dream of pursuing swinely varmints, unfenced, had persisted for at least eleven years.  It was 2004 and the time had come.  I sat in a ladder stand facing west with the already crested sun shining down upon me.  This was my first outfitted hunt, ever, in pursuit of a feral hog.   The air was uncomfortably warm for a mid-west whitetail hunter and the sandy soil, cactus and saw palmetto in central Florida’s country-side were new sights for me in the field.   

I kept vigilant watch spying antlerless deer off to the southwest, an armadillo and some Osceola turkeys.  I’d never seen an armadillo while hunting.  Although the outfitter encouraged us to shoot them I didn’t want to risk spooking any hogs.  The Osceolas were a first for me also, but were off limits at the time.  A golden colored piglet, all alone and no larger than a football, boldly crept towards the timed feeder.  A large bird of prey flew overhead causing the young one to hunker down in a basketball-sized hole.  He stayed there for quite some time and provided a respite from the boredom that can accompany long sits in the stand.  I must say he might have fit nicely in a crockpot for a handy two-person meal.

Having never hunted around a feeder it scared the daylights out of me when it went off later; just as they still do on the rare occasion I’m hunting around one.  It was afternoon, but the sun was creeping into the evening.  Still no hogs.  The sun crept lower until it was dusk.  Beaming at me from an almost level position, bright and golden, it made keeping watch difficult.  Still no hogs.  The sun went down, but a bright yellow still radiated at the horizon. 

There was movement to my right.  Two black hogs noiselessly slipped under the bottom strand of a barbed-wire cattle fence and quickly covered a few feet to the feeder.  I wasn’t expecting nimble, silent hogs.  I don’t know what my realistic expectation was, but that wasn’t it.  Expert limboing hogs were not it.  I sincerely desired a large black representative of the species.  Both were sleek black and about 2/3rds the size of full-grown domestic pigs.  I couldn’t see any tusks, but the curly tails and floppy ears were cute which made me happy.  Yeah, I said cute and have no reservations about harvesting something so described.   The golden orb on the horizon had sunk lower casting short black shadows in my direction.   

I locked eyes on the larger of the hogs a short fifteen yards away.  I’d asked for lots of advice before the trip and was looking for a broadside or quartering away shot with the facing leg forward.  Focused on the corn they paid no attention to me.  When the large hog was broadside I silently drew my old Hoyt Spectra Fast Flite round wheel compound loaded with 100 grain Magnus Stinger tipped aluminum arrows.  At least eleven years old this thing was smokin’ them down range at 187 fps.  Through the top of my peep I saw the shadows had grown longer and were creeping ever closer to us. 

The hog stepped forward with his left, facing leg.  I tucked the pin in tight, low and triggered the release.  It appeared to be a perfect hit.  The hogs stampeded west then north following a two-track towards another hunter’s stand and out of sight.  The arrow was buried in the ground where it had exited the hog.  Then, surprisingly, both hogs came back onto the two-track and stood where it turned from south to east.  Time ticked along slowly as it does when an arrow has been loosed towards a critter.  One hog faced east as if he was looking into the golden brilliance streaming up and out from horizon.  The long black shadows surrounded us all.  He swayed that beautiful sway of a fatally hit animal and then went down – fading into the sunny black.

happy hunting, dv   

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Copyright © Jerry E Long, 2009-2011